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Wikipedia | Google | Google Images | FlickrThe United Kingdom, as the name suggests, is one of a few places in the western world that still has a monarchy. While the royal family can be divisive in the United Kingdom, its existence brings in plenty of international and domestic tourists looking to see more of the history, palaces, and castles of one of the world’s most famous families.
The fact that the royal residences in the United Kingdom are still being used can make them significantly more interesting than some of the abandoned castles in other European nations. One of the country’s most famous buildings and royal residences, Buckingham Palace, will probably be on anyone’s to-do list if they are visiting London, the capital of both the United Kingdom and England.
The History Behind Buckingham HouseWhen a building was first built on the site of Buckingham Palace in 1703, it was built as a home for the Duke of Buckingham , a British poet and politician. This building was called Buckingham House and was used as the duke’s townhouse, a building that is supposedly smaller than his country house!
The building was then owned by King George III, who purchased the building from a descendant of the Duke of Buckingham for £21,000. Under King George III ’s ownership of the house, the residence went by “The Queen’s House” as it was designated as a private residence for Queen Charlotte . Only one of the couple’s 15 children was not born in the building.
As these things often do with the monarchy, ownership passed on to George IV. George III had started remodelling in 1762 and George IV continued the remodelling and decided to make the house into a palace. This is the point when The Queen’s House became Buckingham Palace.
Making a “House” a HomeUnder George IV, there were even plans to convert Buckingham Palace into the Houses of Parliament for the United Kingdom during the 19th century when the Palace of Westminster was destroyed by a fire in 1834.
When Queen Victoria inherited the British throne in 1837 she designated the site as her official residence. Of course, Buckingham Palace as you see it today is quite different from the relatively “modest” building it was when it was first build over 300 years ago. Throughout the ages it has been expanded quite significantly and really took its current form during the 1800s and 1900s as it was adapted to serve as a royal residence, complete with the balcony upon which the royal family often appears when major events are taking place in the capital.
Visiting Buckingham PalaceIf you would like to head inside the palace, tours are available throughout certain months of the year, usually from July through to September as the building is a residence, after all!
Depending on where you are visiting from, the prices may seem quite expensive for a tour. However, you should note that the United Kingdom is generally quite expensive and parts of London are amongst some of the most expensive places in the country. That said, the tours can last over two hours so you are really getting your money’s worth out of it and if you are sure to have an unforgettable visit to one of the world’s most famous buildings.
There are a variety of different tours that can be taken, whether you want to see the Palace’s State Rooms or just visit the beautiful gardens in the rare event that the weather is nice. Of course, even on grey days the gardens are magnificent!
Meals Fit for a King or QueenBuckingham Palace features its own café where you can pick up a bite to eat during the summer if you have visited the State Rooms. At the end of the tour you are given the opportunity to enjoy food and drinks on the West Terrace of the Palace.
Changing the GuardThe British royals love a bit of pomp and ceremony and you’ll be sure to see fine examples of it at Buckingham Palace. The best example of this pageantry is the “Changing of the Guard” in which one group of the Palace’s stone-faced guards are relieved of their honourable duty of protecting the sovereign and replaced by another group of guards.
For the Household Troops, ending their shift takes the form of a fascinating ceremony that can be seen most days of the year. This event occurs almost daily during busier months and on alternate days during the winter months if the weather allows it.
Getting to the PalaceAs one of London’s must-see attractions, Buckingham Palace can be reached by a number of transport options.
Take the TubeThe London Underground, metropolitan rail system, which is affectionately known as “The Tube”, can get visitors to Buckingham Palace without much difficulty. The nearest stations for those wishing to visit the palace are: Victoria, Green Park, and Hyde Park Corner.
Take the TrainIf you are arriving into London by rail, the nearest train station to Buckingham Palace is Victoria Station. However, if arriving at any other railway stations, you can always take the connecting Underground trains to any three of the aforementioned Tube stations.
Take the BusYou can always opt to venture to the palace in the most British way imaginable, aboard one of London’s iconic red double-decker buses. You can take either the 11, 211, C1, or C10 buses and end your journey on Buckingham Palace Road.
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Author: JP_Translation. Last updated: Apr 21, 2015